First color E Ink screen coming in 2011

By on November 8, 2010, 12:46 PM
Color e-readers have existed in prototype form for a while now but soon they'll be hitting the market en masse. It will all begin with Chinese e-reader maker Hanvon, a company that plans to ship the first color reader next year. Hanvon's device sports a 9.68-inch color touch screen, Wi-Fi, and 3G. It will retail in China in March 2011 for about $440. "It's possible that we'll sell this in the US as well," Liu Yingjian, Hanvon's chairman told The New York Times. Even if Hanvon doesn't do it, one of their competitors definitely will.

The e-reader uses a standard E Ink screen with a color filter. As a result, it still has the same low-power, lightweight, high-readability characteristics of its black-and-white brethren. The downside is that its screen is pretty static: color images and illustrations are okay (basic animation might be possible), but full-motion video is definitely out of the question. Furthermore, a lack of backlight means the colors won't be as bright as an LCD screen. Other features of the device have yet to be revealed; Hanvon is known for its handwriting technology, but it doesn't include it in all of its e-readers.

Color isn't as important in reading as it is in media entertainment and gaming. Will color illustrations be enough, or will readers instead choose the more powerful tablets with LCD screens? Chances are that consumers will want everything: e-books with color, media entertainment, video games, all with zero glare and the low power consumption that translates to longer battery life. Oh and a lower price tag wouldn't hurt. Right now that's not possible, so what tradeoffs will you settle for?

User Comments: 11

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madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This could open up the magazines, comic books and Trade Paperback books to the e-reader scene, which would be pretty cool to have and create a new audience for the product.

However I do agree with the observation though that people want everything in one package nowadays, so a tablet/slate style computer may still end up being the better choice.

taea00 said:

For as expensive as this is you're better off with a tablet imo. E-readers are just too limited in their functionality for the price. This'll be great for the early adopters, but I don't see it going much passed there.

treeski treeski said:

The purpose of an e-reader is in the name... they are for reading. As such, I would look forward to a color e-reader only if it enhanced the capabilities of reading magazines, textbooks, etc., and so long as battery life is not hindered.

I won't sacrifice price either. There are some amazingly inexpensive e-readers available, and I would pick one over a color reader any day of the week if the price difference is significant.

sMILEY4ever said:

taea00 said:

For as expensive as this is you're better off with a tablet imo. E-readers are just too limited in their functionality for the price. This'll be great for the early adopters, but I don't see it going much passed there.

I agree. I for one wouldn't buy one of these.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

I'm in the same boat as everyone above. That's why I'm going to get a Notion Ink Adam. Why compromise when you can have it all?

Alathorne said:

With a price tag like that mentioned above, one might as well go the tablet route. Perhaps with volume the price will decrease as the price of many technologies has. I find reading with an LCD screen hard on the eyes after a while, so I'm interested in Pixel Qi or Mirasol technologies.

hassaan said:

Compared to tablets that claim to be great e-readers. No one wants to read books off a bright blinding screen! Plus, battery life is fantastic on real e-readers. I think color e-ink is going to have a HUGE future!

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm still waiting for the Pixel Qi displays to come to market in real products. They look very promising, and could offer the best of both worlds, but they're just not getting here.

Demons said:

I think when you get an e-reader, you aren't really looking for full motion video. I'm sure that within 10 years we will have something of that sort with the high refresh capabilities but right now it's fine with small animations like it says. For a reader, you want really long battery and good reading in all light. You just can't get that in an iPad yet.

raventrickster said:

Colour E-Ink will go a long way towards making e-readers useful for other printed material besides books. It still won't do everything like a tablet will, but in its field it will be a huge step forward. Magazines, comic books, gaming manuals, or anything else in full colour will finally be able to pop onto low powered e-readers. What the tech really needs is a major company behind it making partnerships with media companies to have their releases on the device. Amazon has done a good job of this for black and white books on the kindle, and Apple has done an arguably better job for full colour media with the iPad.

Puiu Puiu said:

the only reason to buy an e-reader is because of the longer battery life and the lower price. if this colored one compromises one of these two it will not be popular at all.

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